March. A Pastoral Poem.

Gentleman's Magazine 57 (March 1787) 259-60.

Dr. William Perfect

Sixeen double-quatrain stanzas, not signed, expanded from the eleven stanzas published in the Sentimental Magazine in 1774. The conventional criticism that pastoral poets failed to observe nature could not be levelled at this writer: "Behold the young lamb in the fold, | A spectacle pleasing and sweet; | O save it new-dropt from the fold, | For feeble and weak are its feet." The March poem of the cycle concludes with a salute to Hymen.

In mantle of Proteus clad,
With aspect ferocious and wild,
Now pleasant, now sullen and sad,
Now froward, now placid and mild,
In his hand, from the Zodiac fled,
The Aries progressive is seen,
The almond her blossoms has shed
Around his unciviliz'd mien.

'Tis March — how tremendous they blow!
Unprison'd what tempests arise
From the caverns of Boreas below!
The hills feel the blasts of the skies.
The hills echo loud, and the deep
Ascends in big surges of foam;
The ships o'er the precipice sweep,
Through perils implacable roam.

Ye winds, your rude tumults assuage;
O cease your wild thunders to pour;
Forbear your tyrannical rage;
O hear the young Season deplore!
Let morning your friendship resume,
Revive Nature's low-bending head,
Send Zephyr on soft silken plume,
The breath of Favonious to spread.

'Tis done: on the banks of the rill
Peeps the primrose in straw-colour'd vest;
By the side of the gay daffodil
Beams the topaz of Flora confest.
The daisy besprinkles the plain;
What lustre the crocus unfolds!
In yellow and purple her train
The eye with soft pleasure beholds.

The alders their bunches unfold,
And see, on the hedge-rows suspend
The sallow's soft fringes of gold,
With leaves of the suckle to blend.
When breathes the sweet South by the bank,
The pilewort shines forth by the rill,
But the violet alone we must thank,
From her all our odours distill.

Does the bee burst her hive in the morn,
There Aether piratical sail;
Sure sign that our fields shall adorn,
That Flora's alive on the Dale.
Sure sign that no storms will arise,
The face of the day to obscure,
But mild and unclouded the skies
The present Serene will insure.

Behold the young lamb in the fold,
A spectacle pleasing and sweet;
O save it new-dropt from the fold,
For feeble and weak are its feet.
The office is soft, and the care
'Tis innocence meekly intreats,
To the cottage, O take him, ye fair,
And feed him whenever he bleats.

From the bough tho' tis naked and bare,
The throstle melodious sings;
The rooks render vocal the air
In the tole with industrious wings,
The colony formed to defend,
Their new habitations we see,
Some labour and loaded ascend,
Whilst others to plunder agree.

The Muse might comparison draw,
And liken this scene to a state
Where anarchy tramples on law;
But fears the bold thought to relate.
But let her idea compare
The Rooks to a newly form'd clan;
Who the standard of government rear,
Without either order or plan.

What gifts for my fair shall I bring,
The primrose and March violet gay;
Such innocent poesies of spring
My purest affection convey.
She comes as the Moon from a cloud,
My snow-bosom'd Delia appears,
With the soul of a mild virtue endow'd,
And her cheeks unpolluted with tears.

The smiles and the buds of the grove
Instantaneous their foliage expand;
Rob'd in all the mild lustres of love,
A lambkin she leads in her hand.
It was the first born of the fold;
Which but for her care had been lost;
Her tenderness sav'd from the cold
The fatal effects of the frost.

She smiles; and, elate with the sound
Of bells from the hamlet below,
Festivity bids to abound,
The cause every shepherd must know.
And bear that Selander the gay,
To Melicent fortunate hind,
By Hymen on this happy day
The bridegroom of transport was joined.

Did Hymen e'er look with more grace?
The Muse is invited a guest:
Was ever more chearful his face
Than on this pleasing union express'd?
Ye shepherds, convene on the lea,
Let mirth the most sprightly be ours:
Go, Delia, announce the decree,
And call up the musical powers.

The crocus of flame-colour'd hue,
The hyacinth varied in vest,
The sweet polyanthuses too,
And anemonies wantonly dress'd.
The mizerian worthy of praise,
Tho' fraught with no lavish perfume,
And willow whose silver-like rays,
Are shed from its white velvet bloom.

These let us collect, and we'll weave
A garland for Melicent's brow;
I'm certain the fair will receive
The gift which her shepherds bestow.
The Fair will the present approve,
And gratefully honour my lay;
'Tis, Nature, the union of love,
Be ever recorded the day.

Selander, O long be thou blest,
Long cherish the maid of thy heart,
Dear choice of his unreserv'd breast,
A passion that's mutual impart.
So your loves shall no trouble annoy,
But Hymen perpetually sing,
That March was the parent of joy,
As well as the father of Spring.

[pp. 259-60]